Judge delays questioning of Edwards over alleged sex tape

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2011 1:14 PM
Judge delays questioning of Edwards over alleged sex tape

By Ned Barnett

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - A North Carolina judge ruled on Thursday that former Senator John Edwards should be spared further questioning about an alleged sex tape with his then-mistress pending the resolution of new criminal charges against him.

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox postponed a deposition set for Monday in which the former North Carolina senator was to testify under oath about his role in the tape.

The deposition is part of civil case brought by Edwards' former mistress, Rielle Hunter, against Edwards' former campaign aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri.

Hunter, a videographer who had an affair and a child with Edwards while he was seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, says the Youngs illegally took the tape after she left it behind in a home she once shared with them. She is seeking the return of the tape.

Edwards submitted to a six-hour deposition in the case in February. The Youngs' attorneys sought to have him deposed again, saying he had refused to answer key questions.

Fox in April had ordered Edwards to return for another deposition.

But on June 3, Edwards was charged in a six-count federal indictment that accuses him of violating campaign finance laws. The violations involve gifts given by Edwards' supporters to Young and Hunter in an effort to keep the affair secret.

Fox agreed on Thursday with arguments from Edwards attorney James P. Cooney that testimony in the civil case could jeopardize Edwards' ability to get a fair trial in the criminal case.

The civil case is set to go to trial on October 10. The trial in the criminal case, originally set for July 11, has been delayed.

Cooney said the criminal trial would begin "no earlier than October and no later than the end of January." A scheduling hearing in the case is set for Tuesday in federal court in Greensboro.

Cooney said Edwards was asked some 2,200 questions during his February deposition and answered most of the questions except those that his attorneys felt were irrelevant.

(Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)